Making Connections, Pitching Ideas and Winning Prizes with LaunchNet


This labor day weekend on Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) campus, CWRU LaunchNet hosted the annual Launch CWRU Weekend entrepreneurship competition. This workshop weekend was aimed towards aspiring entrepreneur students of all departments and majors from CWRU, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), along with other local colleges and universities.

The competition started on Friday, Sept. 2, with participants pitched their imagined product or service ideas to the attendants. A few finalists were chosen and students were free to assemble into teams around the ideas they were interested in. The teams then built up their entrepreneurship ideas together. ideas such as “hardware, software, consumer product, online app or game, brick and mortar shop, or social enterprise” are all acceptable.

On Sunday, Sept. 4, the teams proceeded to pitch their ideas to alumni of CWRU and entrepreneurship professionals, who volunteered their time to serve as mentors for the participants. Mentors’ duties were to aid teams in developing their ideas, setting their goals, describing the steps they would have to go through, pointing out potential roadblocks and connecting students with the resources needed to launch their idea or business.

The weekend provided an abundance of opportunities for students to network. More often than not the meetings would end with an exchange of business cards and a bidding of good luck. The participants were able to attend presentations on building businesses and various other subjects relevant to the purpose of the weekend. These presentations were held by the representatives from a number of companies. “LaunchNet is grateful for sponsorship support from the Weatherhead School of Management and the Sears think[box]. The CWRU student clubs EXCEL, Design for America and Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable were esteemed presentation partners,” posted on the LaunchNet Facebook page on Monday, Sept. 5.

With a total of more than 40 participants, the nine teams rounded out the weekend on Sunday night with a keynote address by Melanie and Toby Maloney, the initial investors in MentalFloss and various other startups. This was followed by the participants’ final presentations, which were judged by a panel including representatives from Venture for America, Cherie Chung and Alex Hilleary, and from the Veale Foundation, Executive Director Cynthia Bailie.

The project that came in first place out of all of the projects was ChromaSense, which is a lab safety application created by CWRU students Hannah Cao, Matthew Lee and Shiva Srida.

Winning second place was a project known as FlyrBag. Flyrbag is a system for sharing/selling excess airline baggage capacity, which was created by Rachel Adelman, Dominic Bruno, Rajeeva Mahalinga, Scott Michaud, and Nathan Palella from University of Akron and CWRU.

Third Place went to SurveHD, which is a gaming and entertainment center designed around the use of shipping containers created by Michael Camper and Steven Su of CWRU and CIA.

The teams share the prize of $1,000 as the seed fund for their entrepreneurship ideas.